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Date: Thurs 5 July 2007

Scottish Executive must play its part in delivering NHS Pay settlement - UNISON

The agreement by new UK Health Secretary, Alan Johnson to re-open talks on health workers pay means that the Scottish Executive has an opportunity to argue for fair pay for Scotland's low paid health workers, says the largest NHS union, UNISON.

John Gallacher, UNISON Regional Officer, said: "UNISON in Scotland has sought a negotiated settlement by all means possible. We have today written to Nicola Sturgeon to urge the Scottish Government to have a positive input to these remaining UK talks, particularly around the issue of low pay. We would welcome further talks with the Deputy First Minister following failed talks with her officials."

An earlier decision of Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon, to impose the 2.5% increase without agreement, has angered the unions.

Tom Waterson, Chair of UNISON's Scottish Health Group said: "The 2.5 % award imposed by the Scottish Executive does not address the aspirations of UNISON workers who sustain vital health services. Problems of low pay and identified and acknowledged in the NHS, but this settlement does nothing to address this. A pay increase of less than £6 per week is an insult to our low paid members"

The imposition and the failure to improve on the 2.5% has moved UNISON significantly closer to a programme of industrial action across NHS Scotland and throughout the UK.

A meeting in Glasgow of its Scottish Health Committee on 3 July delegates representing 60,000 workers in Scotland voted to support a UK ballot for industrial action. This action will cover all groups of workers in the NHS: nurses and midwives, allied health professionals, scientific and technical, administrative and ancillary staffs.

At UK level, UNISON welcomed the agreement of new Health Secretary Alan Johnson to urgently reopen discussions, following the call for talks last week by UNISON.

UNISON National Officer for Health Mike Jackson said: "We very much welcome these last ditch talks to avert industrial action. Living costs have risen far faster than the paltry pay offer on the table and our health workers are underpaid as it is. They simply cannot afford to accept the offer on the table as it stands."

Earlier this year health workers were offered a miserly 2.5% pay offer. The offer was cut even further because the UK Government and employers said it had to be staged. An increase of just 1.5% was offered from April 2007, but the final settlement of 2.5% is only due to be paid from November 2007.

This effectively reduced the annual pay offer to below 2% in England, yet living costs have risen at more than double that figure. UNISON has scheduled a ballot of members for industrial action due to take place in September 2007. UNISON is the UK's largest health union representing 460,000 health workers.

UK talks are expected early next week.


For Further Information Please Contact: John Gallacher (Regional Officer) 07904 342 426 (m) Ton Waterson (Scottish Chair - Health Group) 07753 627 575 (m) Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser) - 07876 441 237(m)